House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was industry.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Tobique—Mactaquac (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Federal Courts Act June 13th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today during private members' hour to join in the debate on Bill C-331, and underscore our government's strong position on this bill.

Canadian companies have always had the ability to hold their heads up high when doing business around the world based on our reputation as a country, not only including our credibility from a financial standpoint but also given our strong record on human rights.

This government is a strong proponent of upholding strong human rights all around the world and is willing to work collaboratively with parties on all sides of the House to put strong legislation in place over the years to come to help strengthen those laws as well.

I am going to use this time to speak briefly about my riding as this will most likely be my last opportunity to speak in the House.

As my constituents and a lot of my colleagues are aware, I decided not to re-offer in the upcoming federal election. However, my feet remain firmly planted in my riding and I will be forever rooted in New Brunswick, my home and my future.

When I originally decided to run, I remember stating in my nomination speech that I was committed to building a great future for Tobique—Mactaquac and to work collaboratively with members on all sides of the House and all parties to do whatever was possible to help New Brunswickers, specifically those people in my riding. My willingness to work toward that goal has never wavered and I feel as committed to my riding today as I ever have.

My constituents are exemplary people who have shown time and time again to have the ability to not only perform but lead on the world stage. I am so incredibly proud of my province and very proud of my country.

I quickly realized as I took office the immense opportunities that ridings like Tobique—Mactaquac and other rural ridings across the country hold and continue to hold today. Not only in my riding, but from coast to coast to coast, the opportunities are endless.

It was once said that the reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is that it goes around wearing overalls and it looks like hard work. Believe me, I recognize opportunity. I have had immense opportunities in my life working in the private sector and it has been an immense privilege to have the opportunity to sit on behalf of the people of Tobique—Mactaquac here in the House of Commons over the last four years. Whether it involves wearing overalls or a three-piece suit, I certainly do not plan to stop seeing opportunities develop for all New Brunswickers and for those in Tobique—Mactaquac. It has been an immense privilege to have had the opportunity to work and be of service.

Over the past four years, we have made great strides in the right direction and yet there are so many opportunities left to come and so many people that have still been left behind. We all know those people: veterans struggling with PTSD; hard-working folks facing unemployment; young people burdened by student loans; seniors struggling on fixed incomes; sole-support mothers trying to make ends meet; aboriginal peoples facing discrimination and the legacy of residential schools abuse; persons with disabilities facing isolation and accessibility barriers in their own homes and communities; and new Canadians working hard to build their new lives. The list goes on. These people are our neighbours, our friends and our family. I am proud, along with my office staff, to have worked hard on their behalf but there is so much more that can be done and we need to continue to be mindful of these issues.

I personally ran to make a difference, to ensure that all kids have the opportunities here at home that truly reflect our amazing region, so that children in every family can excel and reach for their dreams, and to achieve true fiscal responsibility for big and small businesses alike, while recognizing that opportunities country-wide require federal leadership, especially when it comes to infrastructure renewal and new infrastructure. Our government has proven that it is capable of leading that charge. I am very proud of the developments that we have made as a federal government in terms of infrastructure over the last four years.

That is why I have worked hard as a member of Parliament over the past four years serving as chair of the all-party agricultural caucus and chairing the national Liberal rural caucus for a year. In the past, I sat as regional director for provincial ridings in Carleton—York, Carleton—Victoria and Victoria—La Vallée. I worked with the Rotary Club in my local riding. I think that self-service is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to this place. All this and more has made me passionate about public service and about representing my constituents.

As the member of Parliament for Tobique—Mactaquac, I have strongly advocated for continued supply management and investment in agricultural robotics; safe and responsible natural resource development; rural economic development; investment in rural infrastructure; accessibility and visitability, and I am very proud to have worked collaboratively with my colleagues in the House on this; a healthy local economy; improved stewardship of our environment; better, more affordable education; open, fair and strong democratic representation; and the list goes on. I have never pretended to have all the answers. I believe it is more important to ask the right questions and then work to find solutions.

I would like to cite one of my favourite quotes that first came to me from an agricultural producer in my riding. He used to say that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. I believe that public service means giving one's time and talents and providing the resources necessary to improve the lives of others. This approach was adopted by my office from the outset and as the member of Parliament for Tobique—Mactaquac, I have always strived to meet this as a public servant.

I hear what people want and need from their representatives: public engagement, a voice that understands and truly reflects them and a willingness to work across the aisle with those who oppose or are different from us on certain issues. Partisan, divisive politics drives us apart, distracting us from the real priorities and the real work ahead. In New Brunswick, our communities are often close-knit and small, sometimes isolated and struggling. As politicians, our focus should always be on the kind of service that starts in our own homes and grows to embrace our communities and strengthen the general public good.

Serving as the member of Parliament for Tobique—Mactaquac has been so much more than a job. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life and I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to provide a strong, independent New Brunswick voice on behalf of my constituents. I cannot express enough thanks to the residents of my riding for placing their trust in me. I am fortunate to have been part of policy changes and legislation which will leave a lasting, positive impact in the lives of so many constituents and Canadians, in general.

It has been said that there is no bad seat in the House of Commons and I honestly believe that to be true. I would like to acknowledge the friendships and dedication of the members from all sides of the House and the Senate as we worked together on the important issues facing Canadians. We may have had a few disagreements regarding process and policy, but I never had cause to question our collective objective of providing responsible and compassionate governance.

New Brunswick is my home and the place that I love most. I have always dedicated so much of my service advocating for rural economic development, small business growth, rural infrastructure, accessibility and a host of other issues that are important to New Brunswickers. I am proud of our accomplishments. I look forward to continuing to work with and advocate on behalf of New Brunswick businesses and the growth of our local economy. Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the economy and I know I can continue to play a role in their success and contribute to economic development for the benefit of those not only in my community but for New Brunswick as a whole.

I would like to thank all of the volunteers and those who have shared their time, concerns and advice with me and those who attended events and reached out to my office with their concerns around the issues that are important to them. I thank them for their support and encouragement. It is my intention to continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the people of New Brunswick and my constituents until the federal election. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead and thank all of the people of Tobique—Mactaquac for placing their trust in me. I would like to thank my family, my friends, my colleagues and all of the people who have made this journey possible for me, a worthwhile journey, indeed.

I would like to close by citing an old Gaelic blessing, one that my grandfather used often:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act June 3rd, 2019

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here today to speak to Bill S-214, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.

I want to congratulate the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton, not only for sponsoring the bill, which originated in the other place, but for the co-operative approach she has adopted in ensuring that the legislation would achieve its objectives in a way that could be supported by both the animal advocacy community and the industries being regulated. Too often, these initiatives, which most of us support, digress into combative false dichotomies that pit one group against the other, to the detriment of the overall objective. That may be a useful exercise in terms of attention and fundraising, but it does not serve the public interest well and it does not serve public policy goals well. In many cases, it actually makes the situation worse.

This brings me to the central question: What is the objective of Bill S-214? The legislation, as tabled in the House, purports to end the practice of testing cosmetics on animals in Canada, even going so far as to describe the outcome, in the bill's short title, as cruelty-free. What is particularly interesting about this communication strategy is that even the original sponsor of the bill admitted during debate that there was virtually no animal testing of cosmetics in Canada, and she went on to praise the advancements the cosmetics industry has made in the development and implementation of alternative testing methods here in Canada.

I would like to reference the factual comments by the sponsoring member in the other place made during the second reading debate on Bill S-214, on Wednesday, February 3, 2016:

Currently, more than 99 per cent of all safety evaluations related to cosmetics products or their ingredients are now being conducted without animal testing as the Canadian industry has adopted alternative testing methods....

Our cosmetics industry should be commended for moving forward towards eliminating this backward practice.

We can all agree that eliminating this practice is moving forward on the issue and that a narrative that vilifies the Canadian cosmetics industry under these circumstances is both irresponsible and fundamentally dishonest. In fact, this admission by the sponsoring senator resulted in one of her colleagues on the Senate committee studying the bill to question the need for the bill at all.

Although it may appear that what we have here is a piece of legislation in search of a problem, I feel that by reaching out to all the stakeholders, the member for Sarnia—Lambton, along with Health Canada, has used this opportunity to put together a potential bill that would bring some needed consistency and clarity to the application of this overall and global objective.

Mr. Darren Praznik, president and chief executive officer of Cosmetics Alliance Canada and a former minister of health in the province of Manitoba, in his testimony before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, provided a solid rationale for moving ahead with this initiative in the absence of any pressing domestic need. He said:

If properly done, where we can all make this work...and we don’t create some absurdities in regulation, I think it sends a very symbolic message to the world to get on with the work generally about eliminating animal testing and developing alternatives, scientifically, to eliminate animal testing. It also sends a message to regulatory authorities that when those [alternatives] are developed and validated by regulators that they should be used as the [primary] method of approving safety.

I would certainly agree with that sentiment and applaud the responsible manner in which the sector has engaged in this process. The cosmetics industry in Canada is made up of hundreds of individual companies and employs thousands of Canadians. Due to the intricate nature of globalization, the sector is both a major importer and exporter of products. Whenever we as legislators contemplate making regulations, especially ones that are questionable in the domestic context, we must ensure that we do not put Canadian industry and jobs unnecessarily at risk while we also look at the global good and the performance of public policy.

Today, as legislators, we must deal with the actual bill that is before us now. I quote from the bill as written:

cosmetic animal testing means the topical application or internal administration of any cosmetic or ingredient of any cosmetic to a live non-human vertebrate to evaluate its safety or efficacy for the purpose of developing or manufacturing a cosmetic.

Drawing on my own experience in regulated industry, when I look at this proposed bill through the lens of regulatory compliance, I have two specific questions that pertain to the actual implementation of this bill.

First, based on this definition of cosmetic animal testing, would testing a dog shampoo on a dog prior to putting the product on the market be considered cosmetic animal testing? Second, if the cosmetics industry wished to use an ingredient, let us say a chemical preservative that is currently being used in a health food product, which would require animal testing, based on Health Canada's approval process, would that subsequent cosmetic use be allowed under Bill S-214, even though no additional animal testing would occur?

I ask these questions to underscore the difference between a policy that is supported and the regulatory instruments chosen to implement it. If I understand correctly, and I realize that this chamber has a duty to deal responsibly with a public bill originating in the other place, we are being asked to vote on whether there is agreement in principle for a bill that requires at least seven amendments that we have yet to see and evaluate.

I am certainly heartened by the comments from the government that it plans to introduce the necessary amendments to the existing bill and that any new bill introduced in the next Parliament would incorporate this approach as well. I also wonder if the amendments being proposed would be considered outside the scope of the original bill, as passed by the other place, and whether the sponsoring member of the other place would agree to allow these changes.

As we all know, complex regulations are often used as non-tariff barriers, and as I stated earlier, bringing consistency and clarity to this issue is useful. In addition, we need to examine closely how our major trading partners in the European Union, one of the leading jurisdictions on this issue, have approached animal testing regulations. Given that the EU has not only set the precedent in this area but has also had implementation time to make the necessary adjustments to the administrative and logistical details, it becomes clear that any initiative we undertake must align with what the EU is doing, albeit in a manner that is consistent with our domestic regulatory framework.

If we take note of where we are in the electoral calendar, clearly the clock will run out on this current initiative, but I feel that a new bill in the next Parliament, one that is based on stakeholder consensus reached through this process and based on the manner in which the member for Sarnia—Lambton has approached this bill, will serve Canadians very well.

In closing, I want to reiterate my praise for the member for Sarnia—Lambton and my support for the realistic and inclusive approach she has chosen for this initiative. I want to recognize as well the government and the ministry, for putting in the work to ensure that the end result will bring clarity and consistency to the issue, and the animal advocacy sector and the cosmetics industry, for recognizing the importance of working together collaboratively.

Long Service Award May 29th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great pride to recognize the hard work and dedication of someone I have worked with for only four years, but has given a great number of years to this place in more ways than I can share in a single statement.

Last night, she received her long service award for working for the House of Commons for 31 years.

Throughout her time on the Hill, she has not only worked with MPs and staff, but also developed long-standing relationships with the staff at the parliamentary restaurant, the custodial staff, all the security staff, the IT staff and across all party lines. She has gone above and beyond to advocate for necessary changes to benefit others.

Her character is that of honesty, courage and integrity. She never backs down from a challenge and represents the glue in my office. Some members may remember her for organizing the All Party Party some years back.

Although she does not do a single thing for the purpose of credit, when it comes to her substantive contribution to the lives of Canadians throughout her work with various governments and members of Parliament, recognition for her long service cannot go unnoticed.

Colleen Knight's outstanding reputation precedes her.

I thank Colleen for not only her unwavering devotion to my office, but for her commitment to working for so many years toward a better Canada.

Indigenous Affairs May 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, last week I visited Tobique First Nation and toured the site where the community is renovating and expanding the Maliseet Gas Bar and Convenience Store. Once completed, the expansion will offer customers an enhanced location, additional shopping options and convenient services, while creating additional employment for both members of the community and members of the surrounding area during construction and beyond. Our government is pleased to have supported this vital project with a contribution of nearly $400,000 through the community opportunity readiness program.

We know that indigenous peoples are the fastest-growing population in Canada and yet are under-represented in the workforce. Can the hon. Minister of Indigenous Services please tell me what we are doing to support these people?

Peter DeMarsh April 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise with great sadness to honour the memory of Tobique—Mactaquac constituent and noted forestry advocate Peter DeMarsh. He was among the 18 Canadians who died in the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 tragedy.

Peter was the chair of the International Family Forestry Alliance and president of the Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners. A true steward of the environment, he was headed to Nairobi to speak at a conference about family-owned forests and climate change. I had the pleasure of meeting with Peter on many occasions over the last four years and always admired his devotion to the well-being of our planet and his dedication to his rural community and the production of small woodlots.

Peter was a proud New Brunswicker, a fearless and tireless advocate for the protection of small woodlots and a true community leader. My thoughts and prayers go out to Peter's family, friends, those who worked with him and all those affected by this great tragedy.

Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Act January 31st, 2019

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-427, An Act to amend the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Act (excellence in agricultural innovation).

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-427 proposes the creation of an advisory committee for the pursuit of excellence in agricultural innovation, established and composed of persons appointed by the minister, including representatives from the agriculture and agri-food sector, academics and the scientific community, the provinces, and the department itself.

The function of the committee would be to advise the minister on any matters within the mandate of the minister's purview by acting as a centre of excellence for the pursuit of innovation in the agriculture and agri-food sector, including in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics. The committee would hold a minimum of two meetings every year outside the capital region, and the persons appointed by the minister would participate at no cost to the government. This would be on a voluntary basis.

From my experience in the agriculture and agri-food sector, it is a very broad-based industry but one that is filled with new challenges and is really striving to reinvent itself through the use of robotics and new technology. This is an excellent opportunity for the government to inform itself better.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Toys for Joy November 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to a committee in my riding that has been around for 29 years now.

Toys for Joy works tirelessly to bring the magic of Christmas to families in need in the northern part of my riding, namely in Grand-Sault, Saint-André, Drummond and New Denmark.

This year's gift drive will take place on Saturday, December 1, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Toner Home Hardware. The committee will be accepting donations of new toys, money and empty bottles and cans.

Each year, the Toys for Joy committee provides for over 250 families with more than 500 children.

The committee relies on donations only, and each year its success is made possible by the help of countless volunteers, the committee itself and generous donations from individuals and businesses.

My thanks for the generous giving of all, whose contributions impact so many families in need.

Help us bring a smile to a child this holiday season.

Last but not least, I wish my son Jack a happy birthday.

Remembrance Day November 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to recognize our veterans. Royalton, New Brunswick, may be a small community in the western part of the province of New Brunswick, but Royalton lays claim to having one of the largest number of people per capita to have enlisted in the Second World War, with 26 men and one woman who signed up to serve.

As they do every year, families in this community and all other Canadian communities plan to remember those brave men and women on Remembrance Day. Veterans' Week is a time for everyone to come together and salute all Canadians who have served in uniform, including those mentioned from the community of Royalton and all those who participated in these hard-fought battles. We honour all men and all women who had a role in defending our freedom. We also honour the families of fallen soldiers who have sacrificed so much. We thank them for their service and for making Canada the country we see today that allows us to remain proud and free.

This Veterans' Week, Canada remembers. Please have a moment of silence and thank a veteran.

Canada Labour Code October 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I would ask my colleague to elaborate a little on Bill C-65. Throughout her speech, I did not hear a whole lot of substance about Bill C-65. Rather, I heard a lot of accusations and character attacks against the sitting Prime Minister. Maybe she would like to take a bit of extra time and actually focus on Bill C-65.

Tobique—Mactaquac October 15th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to stand in the House today to congratulate not one but two students who live in my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac who have been selected to participate in this year's page program.

First, there is Pascale Gagnon from Grand Falls. A member of my riding’s youth council and a graduate of Polyvalente Thomas Albert, she will continue her education in the honours bachelor of commerce program.

From the Fredericton area of my riding, Hongliang, otherwise known as “Leon” Yu, is working toward his joint honours in economics and political science. Leon graduated from Rothesay Netherwood, an International Baccalaureate World School, located in the Saint John area of New Brunswick.

My sincere congratulations to both Pascale and to Hongliang Yu, to their proud parents and their families. Full marks go to Paul McLellan Head of School at Rothesay Netherwood and Pierre Morin, directeur, Polyvalente Thomas-Albert. They make New Brunswickers proud.